The Wind Power Book
“The Wind Power Book” provides the information you’ll need to determine whether wind energy can trim your use of conventional sources of power.By Jack Park
The Wind Power Book will help you get the most from the wind power generating system you’re planning.PHOTO: JACK PARK
Text and charts from The Wind Power Book by Jack Park (copyright © 1981) are reprinted by permission of the author and Cheshire Books.
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Harnessing the wind is a fantastically appealing idea. Anyone who’s stepped out into a howling autumn blow knows instinctively that there’s tremendous power in the movement of air, but the would-be windplant owner must decide whether his or her area has enough wind year round to justify the expense of such a system.
Windplant designer and builder Jack Park—owner of Helion Inc., president of the American Wind Energy Association, and author—has addressed that subject in a new text: The Wind Power Book. In the opinion of MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ technical staff, it is the clearest, most understandable explanation yet of the factors that anyone must consider before either purchasing or constructing a wind energy system.
In fact, we were sufficiently impressed by the book to secure the right to reprint a portion of the volume’s introduction …which we hope will help to give everyone who reads it a sound understanding of the whys and wherefores of wind power.
The Uses of Wind Power
Today, the wind can be harnessed to provide some or all of the power for many useful tasks such as pumping water, generating electricity, and heating a house or barn. Let’s examine a few of these more closely.
Pumping water is a primary use of wind power. Daniel Halliday and others began manufacturing multi-bladed windmills for this purpose in the mid-nineteenth century. Halliday’s work coincided with advancements in the iron water-pump industry. Soon the combination of wind machines and iron water-pumps made it possible to pump deep wells and provide the water for steam locomotives chugging across the North American plains. The demand for wind-powered deep-well pumps created a booming wind power industry at the turn of the century. Sears sold those machines for about $15, or $25 for a tower.
The wind has also been harnessed to provide mechanical power for grain grinding, sawmill operation, and even driving a washing machine. While I don’t envision next year’s Kenmore washing machine to come complete with a tower, blades, and drive shaft in lieu of an electric cord and plug, mechanical power from a wind machine can prove useful.
Electricity can power just about anything, and its generation from wind power seems to grab the lion’s share of attention. You can pump water, run washing machines, grind grain, heat houses, and read books if you have electric power. As soon as electric generators from old cars became available, farmers started building “light plants,” or homemade wind generators. Such early mechanics magazines as Popular Science and Modern Mechanix demonstrated how to convert water-pumping windmills into wind chargers by using junked generators, bicycle chains, and the family wind machine.